CBS Search For Permanent Les Moonves Successor Is Likely To Wrap By April

Read on: Deadline.

Nearly six months after Les Moonves was ousted from CBS after numerous sexual assault and misconduct allegations, the search for his permanent successor is proceeding apace.
Most insiders expect a new CEO to be in place by April, we hear.
Right now, th…

CBS Q4 Earnings Undershoot Wall Street Estimates Due To Entertainment Dip

Read on: Deadline.

CBS Corp. reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell short of Wall Street analysts’ expectations, largely due to a dip in its Entertainment unit caused by timing of international licensing deals and tough comparisons with domestic sales in the ye…

CBS Shareholders Accuse Les Moonves, Acting CEO Joe Ianniello of ‘Suspicious’ Stock Moves in Lawsuit

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

CBS shareholders, in an amended lawsuit filed on Monday, accuse former CEO Les Moonves, acting CEO Joe Ianniello and other CBS executives of selling off more than $200 million worth of stock while holding on to information about the company’s wid…

CBS Shareholders Update Lawsuit To Flag $200M In Stock Sales In Allegedly “Fraudulent Scheme” By Management

Read on: Deadline.

A shareholder lawsuit filed last summer against CBS and several of its current and former leaders has been amended to charge that $200 million in stock was unloaded by insiders who knew the company would face serious exposure in the second half of 2018…

Alyssa Milano Responds to Les Moonves’ Attempted Comeback: ‘We Can’t Expect That Not to Happen’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano responded to the news that toppled executive CBS Les Moonves had begun to make an attempted comeback in Hollywood with a new company by calling on others in the industry to protect the women around them.

“That’s gonna happen. We can’t expect that not to happen,” Milano told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday. “We can’t put all these men on an island and say, ‘Eh, they’ll figure it out. Let them eat themselves.’”

The key, Milano said, is to implement systemic protections for women that won’t allow offenders to go on unaccountable for bad behavior.

Also Read: Fired CBS Chief Les Moonves Quietly Sets Up New Venture, Moon Rise Productions

“They’re going to get jobs again,” she said. “So I think it’s our responsibility to figure out what that re-entering into the workplace looks like, and how women will feel comfortable within that space. What we can do is set down policy so women — and men — feel safe working around Les Moonves.”

Milano has been an outspoken leader in Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, up to and including the ouster of Moonves as CBS chief executive amid a multitude of sexual misconduct allegations last fall. The movement has seen a number of accused abusers lose work, but a few, including Moonves and comedian Louis C.K., have already begun to make an attempt to revive their careers.

But Milano, and the other actresses and directors appearing alongside her on a panel to discuss women at the helm of movies and series for Lifetime, said they wouldn’t allow Hollywood to regress back to a point where people look the other way in the face of abusive or harassing behavior.

Also Read: Alyssa Milano Calls for Accountability, Rehabilitation ‘Protocol’ Amid John Lasseter Backlash

“I don’t think we can go back,” said “Jane Green’s To Have and To Hold” star, Erika Christensen.

“I won’t allow anybody to go back,” added Milano.

“Holding people accountable … that can be contractual, as well,” she said. “If you’re funding Les Moonves, or planning on working with him, you have to have an ironclad contract that enables full due process … There’s a lot of things that can go into place.”

Also Read: Alyssa Milano: Red MAGA Hats Are the New White Hoods – Let’s Take a Stand (Commentary)

Monika Mitchell, who directed Christensen in “To Have and To Hold,” cautioned not to underestimate the collective pull of women in decision-making positions in the industry.

“What I have felt much more strongly since 2016 is the ability to say ‘I won’t work with that person,’” Mitchell said. “I think if the 10 of us went, ‘I won’t work with that person,’ it actually means something now.”

“I think a statement has been made that everyone is aware of. We are saying that we are not going to take this anymore,” said actress Tiffany Hines, who stars in Lifetime’s “Pride & Prejudice in Atlanta.”

Also Read: Les Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for $120 Million Severance Denied by CBS

The women all agreed, the #MeToo movement is here to stay and its lasting effects on the industry will surely be felt going forward.

“I always joke that when animals are on set, the Humane Society is everywhere and yet women are made to get totally naked with not one protection mechanism anywhere,” Milano said. “I think all of that is totally going to change.”

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Alyssa Milano: Red MAGA Hats Are the New White Hoods – Let’s Take a Stand (Commentary)

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Elizabeth Holmes Joins Alex Gibney’s Documentary Rogue Parade: Sundance

Read on: Deadline.

Long before the documentary became the hot film category, Alex Gibney directed one after another about a parade of flawed, scandalous people who go down in flames and disgrace. From Gotham governor Eliot Spitzer to the architects of the Enron scandal, …

Les Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for $120 Million Severance Denied by CBS

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Former CBS chief Les Moonves will be pursuing arbitration to fight CBS for the $120 million severance pay he was denied last month when he was fired by the board of directors for cause.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday, CBS stated that Moonves has informed the company of his plan: “On January 16, 2019, Mr. Moonves notified the Company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter. The Company does not intend to comment further on this matter during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings.”

The investigation into Moonves — who was ousted in September, after multiple women came forward with sexual misconduct accusations — concluded Dec. 17, with the CBS board announcing at that time the former chairman and CEO “will not receive any severance payment.”

Also Read: Former CBS Chief Les Moonves Will ‘Not Receive Any’ of $120 Million Severance Payment

“We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause,” the board said in a statement, citing what they categorized as Moonves’ “willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation.”

Moonves stood to receive a $120 million golden parachute, pending the now-closed investigation, which is what he’s fighting for now.

In a statement given by Andrew Levander, an attorney for Moonves, at the time of CBS’ ruling last month, the broadcaster’s former chief maintained his innocence. “The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit,” Levander said. “Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated this ‘process,’ the press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy. Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”

Also Read: 13 TV Winners and Losers of 2018: From Henry Winkler to ‘Heathers’

Levander did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on this story and CBS Corp declined to comment.

Beyond Moonves’ monetary fate, investigators also determined that “harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS,” but that the company’s historical policies didn’t make “preventing harassment and retaliation” a “high institutional priority.”

Also Read: CBS Names 18-Plus Groups to Split $20 Million Donation to Fight Workplace Harassment

Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct by six women in a New Yorker article written by Ronan Farrow last July. Six more women came forward in September. Moonves resigned as CEO of CBS in September, following a two-month investigation but has denied all accusations.

Last month, CBS president and acting CEO Joseph Ianniello told employees that the investigation into the culture at CBS that was sparked by the multiple sexual misconduct accusations made against Moonves was nearing its end, noting that it was “frustrating” multiple leaks from the probe have been published in the New York Times.

In one of those stories, a report by lawyers for CBS found that the network would be justified in denying Moonves an otherwise-owed $120 million severance payout because he destroyed evidence and misled investigators looking into accusations of sexual misconduct, according to the Times, which cited a draft of a report prepared for the company’s board.

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Financial Times’ Agenda Pulls Quotes From ‘Les Moonves’ Interview He Denied Ever Happened

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Les Moonves Will Fight For His $120M Exit Package, CBS Confirms

Read on: Deadline.

In a terse regulatory filing, CBS has confirmed that its former CEO, Les Moonves, isn’t going away without a fight.
In December, the company’s board cited the findings of its internal investigation in declaring that Moonves had been fired f…

CBS Brass Take Employee Questions About Les Moonves, Viacom Merger Talk And Other Issues Facing Mending Company

Read on: Deadline.

In a two-day forum for employees that concluded this afternoon, CBS acting CEO Joe Ianniello and two other top executives answered a range of questions via a liveblog hosted on an internal network.
Multiple CBS employees reached by Deadline saluted the…

Julie Chen Returns To Work On ‘Big Brother’ Franchise

Read on: Deadline.

Julie Chen tweeted she’s back to work on CBS’s Big Brother franchise.
“So excited to be back on this stage,” she tweeted.
“Who else is ready for the second season of #BBCeleb?! RT if you’re counting down to the premiere on Monday January 21!”
Responses to her tweet were split, with about half falling into the “It wouldn’t be the same with out you Julie!! We love you!” category, the other half being of the
“Is Les one of the contestants?/Why isn’t your husband in jail”…

Financial Times’ Agenda Pulls Quotes From ‘Les Moonves’ Interview He Denied Ever Happened

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Financial Times’ corporate news service Agenda has pulled quotes from an interview that it said its reporters had with former CBS CEO Les Moonves — an interview the disgraced mogul vehemently denied he ever had with the outlet.

In a lengthy editor’s note added Thursday to an updated version of the Dec. 18 story, Agenda said it stood by its reporters, Stephanie Forshee and Jennifer Williams-Alvarez, but had decided to yank all the quotes from the disputed interview anyway.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article published on Dec. 18 included quotes attributed to Les Moonves and a headline related to those quotes. On Jan. 8, a spokesperson for Mr. Moonves issued a statement denying that Mr. Moonves spoke with reporters from Agenda in December 2018 or at any other time. Our reporters had each dialed a number obtained from a subscription public records database that purported to be Mr. Moonves’s number and spoken with an individual who identified himself as Mr. Moonves. The individual had knowledge of the CBS board’s decision and the history behind it. We stand by our reporters’ portrayal of those conversations but, in light of the statement from Mr. Moonves, we have removed the quotes from the article.

Also Read: Financial Times Won’t Retract ‘Les Moonves’ Interview He Denies Ever Happened

Reps for Financial Times, Agenda and Moonves did not respond to requests for comment.

The note is the third attempt by the Financial Times subsidiary to address the imbroglio over the story, in which an individual identified as Moonves said the battle over his $120 million severance package was “far from over” despite his firing for cause by the CBS board on Dec. 17 after multiple sexual harassment accusations.

Moonves’ spokesperson had asked for a retraction of the story, saying that the former media mogul “did not speak with reporters from Agenda in December 2018 or at any other time. Any suggestion that he did is without any factual basis whatsoever.”

As TheWrap reported on Wednesday, Agenda had updated the story to explain “that the reporters spoke to a person who identified himself as Mr. Moonves, and that Mr. Moonves’s spokesperson has said that was not him.” (A still earlier editor’s note, first reported in Vanity Fair, promised that Agenda was “reviewing” the matter.)

Since his departure from CBS, the company been led by interim CEO Joe Ianniello.

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Financial Times Won’t Retract ‘Les Moonves’ Interview He Denies Ever Happened

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Former CBS Chief Les Moonves Will ‘Not Receive Any’ of $120 Million Severance Payment

Why a CBS and Viacom Merger Is Looking Likely in Early 2019

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A merger of CBS and sister company Viacom that has been hovering in corporate and legal limbo for roughly three years may now happen during the first six months of this year, industry experts say.

“I would be surprised if this merger doesn’t happen during the first half of the year, maybe even the first quarter,” CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi told TheWrap.

Analysts note that one of the chief obstacles to the long-proposed deal — former CBS CEO and chairman Les Moonves — is now out of the picture following his firing for cause late last year after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

Since the idea of a merger began gaining traction in 2016, Moonves all but launched a corporate and legal siege to block any attempts to combine the two companies by Shari’s Redstone’s National Amusements Inc., the privately held family firm that controls roughly 80 percent of the voting power in both companies (which had split into separate companies in 2005).

Also Read: If Les Moonves Exits CBS, What Happens to His Crusade Against the Viacom Merger?

“We never expected CBS’ Les Moonves to fight a transaction that would have benefited CBS and Viacom shareholders and enabled the combined company to lead the consolidation wave in legacy media, versus trail it,” BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in a blog post earlier this week. “With Moonves now gone, we expect Viacom and CBS to merge in early 2019.”

That effort wouldn’t come from National Amusements, which has repeatedly pressed the two companies to consider reteaming. As part of Moonves’ ouster last September and the settlement of lawsuits over corporate governance with the CBS board of directors, National Amusements agreed that it would not pursue a merger for two years.

CBS and Viacom could still seek a merger if two-thirds of the board members who aren’t affiliated with National Amusements request it.

Also Read: Sumner Redstone Family Settles Legal Dispute With Manuela Herzer

“When [the CBS board] opposed the merger last year, it wasn’t because the justification for it wasn’t there, but because of all the noise and push-and-pull with the governance issues,” Amobi said. “Folks assumed that it could take two years before we heard anything about a merger; it was lost that the CBS board would look at this and revisit it.

“National Amusements can’t initiate a merger, but it was likely something very much in the back of their minds when making those board appointments.”

The CBS board is currently facing some major question marks. For example, the company needs to decide whether to hire an outside CEO or promote Ianniello to the job beyond interim status; analysts have been uncertain whether he’d be a permanent fit.

Also Read: Former CBS Chief Les Moonves Will ‘Not Receive Any’ of $120 Million Severance Payment

In late December, The Wall Street Journal reported former Disney COO Tom Staggs — who had once been tapped as the heir apparent to Disney chief Bob Iger — had emerged as a candidate to permanently fill the role. The Journal also listed Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner and Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch as potential candidates.

But in the event of a CBS-Viacom merger, analysts suspect that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish — who has made strides to improve the company’s performance since taking over in late 2016 — would make the most sense to lead the newly recombined companies.

“Rather than name a new CEO, we believe CBS’ board of directors should reopen merger discussions with Viacom immediately,” Greenfield wrote. “We would expect the management team of the combined company to be led by current Viacom CEO, Bob Bakish, and current Viacom CFO, Wade Davis, with Shari Redstone likely to take the chairperson role.”

Greenfield has argued in the past that the future of a combined Viacom and CBS would be driven by an increased focus on international and scaling up. Before taking the reins at Viacom, Bakish spent roughly a decade overseeing various international operations at the company, including in January 2011 being promoted to president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks.

Recent multibillion-dollar deals such as Disney’s acquisition of the majority of Fox’s TV and film entertainment assets and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner speak volumes to the exponential importance of scale in the media and entertainment industry.

Also Read: What Are CBS CEO Les Moonves and Shari Redstone Even Fighting About?

A CBS merger with Viacom could be a vital step in achieving scale for both companies and, importantly, their shareholders. According to Greenfield, however, it likely wouldn’t end there.

“Following the merger, look for the new Viacom-CBS combined company to focus on scaling up to better compete with the industry behemoths,” he wrote. “Assets such as Discovery, Lionsgate, MGM, Sony TV/Film, etc. could all be of interest in 2020 and beyond.”

While CBS has consistently been at or near the top in broadcast ratings, the company’s yearly revenue and net income has remained roughly stagnant over the last five years. In 2017, the last full-year financials CBS has reported, the company reported that revenue was down more than 10 percent compared with 2013. And 2017’s net income declined roughly 30 percent over that time frame.

Meanwhile, Viacom has been in rebuild mode since Bakish took over from former boss Philippe Dauman in 2016, has been attempting to stabilize its business. The company’s fiscal annual revenue has remained relatively steady, dipping roughly 6 percent in 2016 from the previous year, but annual net income has rebounded significantly since 2016 when income slid more than 25 percent compared with the previous year.

In 2017, income bounced back more than 30 percent, though in the 2018 fiscal year, there was a roughly 10 percent decline in net income.

“The rationale for bringing these two companies together is still there. What I’ve heard, talking to investors, there are some institutional holders that think the time is now,” Amobi said. “There’s speculation that it could be top of the agenda at the upcoming board meeting.”

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New CBS News Boss Susan Zirinsky’s Top Priority? Fixing the Ratings

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Susan Zirinsky, a beloved figure at CBS News who started out as a production clerk in 1972, will have her fair share of fires to put out as she takes over the network’s news division following the ouster of David Rhodes.

First and foremost: turning around CBS News’ precipitous ratings slide over the last year.

In 2018, three of the network’s marquee shows — “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning” and the Sunday morning chat fest “Face the Nation” — all declined from 2017 in both overall ratings and in the critical advertiser coveted 25-54-year-old demographic.

“Hard to sugarcoat, but it’s mostly a mess at CBS News outside of the consistent success of ’60 Minutes,’ which is enjoying yet another great season,” Joe Concha, a media critic for The Hill, told TheWrap.

Also Read: Former CBS Chief Les Moonves Will ‘Not Receive Any’ of $120 Million Severance Payment

Over the last year, Rhodes’ gambles to shuffle top on-air talent failed to spike viewer interest. Glor, who was heralded as a bold internal hire when he replaced Scott Pelley in December 2017, has lost ratings ground to both ABC’s David Muir and NBC’s Lester Holt. Ratings dropped tumbled last year 5 percent overall and 10 percent in the demo.

In the case of “CBS This Morning,” the staffing shuffle was prompted by #MeToo accusations against co-anchor Charlie Rose that forced his ouster in November 2017. But Rose’s replacement, John Dickerson, has seen the show slide even further behind its broadcast competitors, “Good Morning America” and “Today,” dropping 10 percent overall and 13 percent in the demo.

And at “Face the Nation,” where Margaret Brennan replaced Dickerson last February, viewership has fallen 10 percent overall and 15 percent in the demo, according to Nielsen data.

While competitors at ABC and NBC were generally down too for the year in those day parts, the declines at CBS News were the steepest, the data show.

Reps for Zirinsky and the network did not respond to requests for comment.

Also Read: Gayle King Says CBS News Was ‘Not Sinking, But Taking on Water’ Before ‘Badass’ New Boss Hired

This week, “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King alluded to the network’s troubles on air and expressed confidence that Zirinsky would be able to turn the situation around.

“I feel that we were sort of like a ship, not sinking, but taking on water,” King said during Monday’s broadcast. “And I feel that she is someone who can right the ship, because she gets us, she knows us. And by us I mean this organization. She’s been here for a very long time. She is a smart cookie and she is a badass in every sense of the word.”

The good news is that the division’s two primetime shows appear to be in good shape. “60 Minutes” is up 11 percent in the 18-49 demo so far this season, and “48 Hours” is up 6 percent in the demo.

Looking beyond ratings, Zirinsky will also have to put her mark on a larger cultural overhaul taking place at the network, which has seen the #MeToo-related ouster of high-profile executives like network CEO Les Moonves to longtime “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager.

Before she was named president, Zirinsky had been considered as a replacement for Fager. Now the longtime newswoman, who’s executive produced CBS’ “48 Hours” since 1996, will be charged with filling both of the top slots at the network’s primetime news magazines. The status of a year-long investigation into misconduct at CBS News after Rose was fired also remains unclear.

“She has her work cut out for her and she’s certainly capable,” Concha said of Zirinsky. “The good news is that in some areas the only place to go is up.”

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David Rhodes to Step Down as CBS News President, Susan Zirinsky to Take Over

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11 Media Losers of 2018, From Les Moonves to Michael Avenatti (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

2018 was hard for a lot of media folks, but particularly so for this rogues’ gallery. For some, it was MeToo, for others, industry headwinds were too much. And for more still, disgrace and ignominy came after just saying the wrong thing.
Les Moon…

TV Controversies In 2018: #SexualHarassment, #Racism, #Bombs, #Guns, #BabySnatching

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In 2018, a TV actor gender pay parity still was being debated, a TV journalist thought blackface could be defended on grounds of “Halloween,” and a TV ad campaign featuring a man known for kneeling to protest deaths of unarmed U.S. citizens…

The Highest-Profile Executive Exits Of 2018 – A Photo Gallery

Read on: Deadline.

Anyone working at high levels in Hollywood or the media business understands there is always a trapdoor under their feet. In 2018, however, that door swung open with remarkable swiftness and frequency — a byproduct of how high the stakes are in t…

13 TV Winners and Losers of 2018: From Henry Winkler to ‘Heathers’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

As they say every year, it has been one hell of a year — and that idiom even applies to the idiot box. Take “Roseanne” for example: In 2018 alone, ABC revived its old sitcom, made it the top show on TV, canceled it, ordered a spinoff, premiered that spinoff by killing off its former star AND went on hiatus with Dan Conner (John Goodman) already having a new love interest.

Mm-hmm, it’s been a looooooong 12 months.

Read below to see who we think had the best and worst year across the television industry.

Also Read: 18 Most-Watched TV Specials of 2018: Oscars, Emmys and Everyone Loves a Parade (Photos)

Winner: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” came out of nowhere (OK, it was out of Amazon’s Prime Video) and has cleaned up at awards ceremonies since. In 2018, both the show and its star Rachel Brosnahan won top Golden Globe honors — both are renominated for 2019, plus Alex Borstein as supporting actress. “Maisel” also scored eight of the 12 Emmy chances it had, including trophies for the show, Brosnahan and Borstein.

So yeah, it’s been a good year.

Loser: Megyn Kelly
Never defend blackface. Never, ever, ever. Megyn Kelly learned that lesson the hard way in the lead-up to Halloween 2018.

Kelly’s NBC News morning show “Megyn Kelly Today” host was unceremoniously canceled in October after the former Fox News Channel primetime personality said she didn’t see the problem with wearing blackface on Halloween. We invite readers who don’t remember that snafu to just imagine how well it went over.

Also Read: 109 Cable Channels Ranked by 2018 Viewership, From Fox News to Comedy.TV

Winner: 21st Century Fox Shareholders
Twenty-First Century Fox shareholders better be giving Comcast CEO Brian Roberts a nice gift basket or two this holiday season. After all, his attempts to out-flank Disney in their eventual acquisition of Fox’s film and TV assets tacked on an additional $20 billion to the initial $54.8 billion price tag, which ended up north of $71 billion. Though Disney CEO Bob Iger probably had that much just laying in between his couch cushions.

Loser: Les Moonves
Oh, you haven’t heard? Perhaps no entertainment executive had a further fall from grace in 2018 than the (former) longtime chief of CBS. First, he was engaged in a nasty legal battle with Shari Redstone, before being the subject of a never-ending string of sexual misconduct allegations, which led to his resignation from CBS after 23 years.

Oh yeah, and on Monday he lost $120 million.

Yes, it was all bad. It was all really bad — but you definitely have heard about Moonves ad nauseam and could probably use another “Winner” right about now.

Also Read: 35 Top Cable News Shows of 2018: From ‘Hannity’ to ‘The Situation Room’

Winner: Ryan Murphy
If we needed to crown one person 2018’s overall TV winner, the list would begin and end with Ryan Murphy: the prolific producer who inked a reported $300 million deal with Netflix last February. (Yes, that’s bigger than Shonda Rhimes’ reported $150 million in 2017.)

While Murphy’s slate of streaming originals is still to come, he’s had his hands more than full with projects at his former home studio, 20th Century Fox TV, which he officially said farewell to in July.

In 2018, Murphy launched new dramas “9-1-1” on Fox and “Pose” on FX, along with the eighth installment of “American Horror Story” (which was renewed through Season 10 this summer) and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” the second chapter in his “American Crime Story” saga. “Versace” and “Pose” are both critical darlings that have kept Murphy on his toes — heading up to accept awards all season long, that is.

Oh, and he finally got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last month. Well-deserved.

Loser: Marvel Shows on Netflix
They all gone — with the exception of “Jessica Jones” and “The Punisher.” This year, Netflix axed “Iron Fist,” “Luke Cage” and “Daredevil” (and to a lesser extent, “The Defenders”). Thank goodness for upcoming SVOD service Disney+.

Marvel series aren’t exactly killing it on Disney’s ABC though: “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is still on the air, but it’s now a summer show. That box office thing still seems to be working out though.

Also Read: 12 Worst Movies of 2018, From ‘Happytime Murders’ to ‘Ready Player One’ (Photos)

Winner: Live Sports
The year 2018 was a good one to be a sports league. The UFC signed a $1.5 billion deal with ESPN, WWE signed about a $1 billion deal to move “SmackDown Live” from USA Network to Fox broadcast channel.

The granddaddy of them all was Fox’s acquisition of “Thursday Night Football” — the network paid $3.3 billion for the privilege. So far so good, as NFL ratings are actually up this year season-to-date. That’s the exact opposite of non-live-sports viewing trends.

Loser: “The Walking Dead”
Not only did Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) leave “The Walking Dead” in 2018, so did a whole bunch of viewers.

The audience for AMC’s big hit series is down like 35 percent this year, per Nielsen. Fortunately, “The Walking Dead” was once big enough to absorb such a hit — but it can’t take many more losses.

Also Read: 10 Best Theater Productions of 2018, From ‘Ferryman’ to ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ (Photos)

Winner: Henry Winkler
Everyone loves Henry Winkler — it just took quite a while for the Television Academy to catch up. Winkler had been nominated for five Emmys before finally winning on his sixth chance. (Yes, those date back to his [Happy] days as “The Fonz.”)

Thank goodness for HBO’s “Barry.” Not only did it get the nicest man in Hollywood his due, it also introduced the world to NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), who deserves all the awards.

Loser: “Heathers”
Where do we even begin? Paramount Network was set to debut its loose adaptation of the 1988 Wynona Rider-Christian Slater film in March, but the Viacom-owned cable channel delayed the series — which included scenes with guns in schools — until July following the tragic Parkland, Florida school-shooting. That re-slated premiere never happened either, and Paramount said it would shop the show instead.

Or maybe not. Because in October, Paramount Network reversed course again, saying that it would air the series after all — just not its “controversial” finale.

Or also maybe not. “Heathers” saw its episodes pulled (yes, again) after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Some things are just not meant to be.

Also Read: ‘Game of Thrones’ Tops Comcast’s 2018 On-Demand Shows List – Even With No 2018 Episodes

Winner: NBC
NBC has clinched a No. 1 finish among adults 18-49 for the fifth calendar year in a row and sixth time in seven years. The network’s current +38 percent lead over its closest competitor is the biggest margin to this point in the year in Nielsen people-meter history. And yes, even excluding sports, NBC wins 2018 in ratings. The broadcaster is also going to win 2018 in total viewers for the first time in 16 years.

In 2018, NBC boasted the No. 1 show (“Sunday Night Football”), the No. 1 drama (“This Is Us”), the No. 1 new series (“Manifest”), the No. 1 alternative series (“America’s Got Talent”) and the No. 1 new alternative series (“Ellen’s Game of Games”).

Loser/Winner: Shows Saved After Cancellation
2018 was a banner year for TV series that got the ax at their home network and were quickly resuscitated by another platform. The most famous cases here are obviously Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which was rescued by NBC just over 24 hours after cancellation, and ABC’s “Last Man Standing,” which went to Fox a year after it was axed on ABC. Then there was “Lucifer” (another Fox casualty), which was revived by Netflix, a streamer that also picked up ABC’s “Designated Survivor.”

Broadcast networks weren’t the only ones to see their leftovers reheated, with Syfy’s “The Expanse” moving to Amazon after some serious fan outcry. Honorable mention goes to NBC’s “Timeless,” which did not get a save after being canceled for the second time, but was handed a 2-hour series finale as a conciliation for its cancellation. That airs Thursday.

Also Read: 22 Most Shocking TV Character Deaths of 2018, From ‘The Affair’ to ‘Westworld’ (Photos)

Winner/Loser: “Roseanne”
“Roseanne” somewhat fits the bill for our previous bullet-point, but the fate and state of the ABC hit sitcom’s universe is certainly worthy of its own breakout. “Roseanne” returned in Spring 2018 as No. 1 entertainment show on television. By late May, the series was canceled after some erratic behavior and offensive tweets by star Roseanne Barr.

Less than one month later, every Conner not named “Roseanne” had a job again, as ABC ordered spinoff “The Conners.” That version has done well, but nowhere near “Roseanne”-well. To be fair, nothing has.

Tim Baysinger and Jennifer Maas contributed to this story.

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